Stories of hope and resilience: Using new media and storytelling to faciliate ‘wellness’ in Indigenous communities

This project explored how the experience of storytelling using new media can impact on Indigenous people’s sense of wellness. The Guugu Yimmithir people from the North Queensland community of Hopevale collaborated in this project as a means to engage their young people. The project aimed to collect and archive oral histories, cultural heritage and stories in a digital, portable format that can be accessed easily both by members of the community and the wider public.

This digital storytelling project is embedded within the larger Hope Vale-Pelican project, in which the Melbourne-based catamaran Pelican1 travels north annually to work with the Hopevale community. Community elders are a key part of the storytelling project, which has worked in partnership with the State Library of Queensland and Arts Queensland since 2008.

The main aim of the project was to answer the following research question: how does producing a co-created media product using new digital technologies enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous people living in a remote community?

The project also sought:

  • To bridge the intergenerational and digital divide between ‘old ways’ and ‘new ways’ of telling stories.
  • To develop self-determined cultural safekeeping of Indigenous knowledge within the Hopevale community.
  • To create an accessible avenue for ongoing skills development for people within the community.
  • To bring youth and elders together in the creation of stories and maintenance of culture.
  • To transfer skills in technology and literacy.
  • To show the importance of country in relation to health outcomes.

The project involved the production of digital images and digital recordings of individual stories from people living in Hopevale during their time on the project. A pilot project was conducted in September 2007, with the main work undertaken over a month during the September/October 2008 school holidays at a community camp at Connie’s Beach, Cape Flattery (on Cape York). Participants’ ages ranged from 6 to 80 and all were self-selecting. The research used in-depth semi-structured interviews and informal conversations with participants to explore the experiences of the participants who made stories during camp in relation to the themes of the research questions.

More than 9000 images have been archived and 18 individual stories produced, along with a number of audio recordings and video footage. The stories cover themes such as literacy, historical and autobiographical narratives, as well as documenting camp life, sea country conservation, turtle, dugong and sea grass management and cultural stories. The stories were screened at the end of the camp as part of a celebration evening and later at Hopevale in November 2008. A DVD was made and handed back to the participants and archived in the community. The stories have subsequently been uploaded to a number of websites for public access.

The project started in September 2007 and finished in 2010.

Related resources:

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land across Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.